Is Ouya dead? Not dead? Clinging to life? Depends who you ask.
The fate of the original vision for the Android-powered, living-room gaming hardware seems to be sealed, with company executives telling The Verge that the Ouya is no longer going to be a hardware device. Rather, the company will concentrate on building out Ouya as a software platform that could run on devices made by others — set-top boxes, televisions, other Android-based gaming consoles.
"What makes Ouya is not the physical hardware, but the fact that it is made for games built for a TV," Ouya founder Julie Uhrman said in a statement provided to The Verge.
While Ouya seems to hope that it can do for mobile gaming what services like Netflix did for movies and TV shows, critics are skeptical that there will be much traction for a new gaming platform that sits right between developers and the general Android ecosystem.
"Turning Ouya into what amounts to an app store that runs on certain devices doesn't do much other than fragment the Android market and create another middle-person between the developers and the audience. Outside of a small collection of indie titles, Ouya is bringing little value to existing devices. They're hurting the games they're signing by limiting the audience, and that's a terrible place to put developers," Polygon said.
The gaming blog said an Android-based living room gaming console with ample support for apps, games, and some fun hackery seemed like a creative and much-needed idea at the time. However, it joined other critics who have been quick to point out the failures that surrounded most of the Ouya's existence: poor hardware, worse reviews, early Kickstarter backers left in the cold when their promised early-bird devices never materialised on time, a difficult-to-navigate user interface, and a dearth of games that worked well with controllers and televisions — not to mention a lack of killer exclusives to lead gamers to the trough.
"Back when Ouya was all the buzz, generating hype alongside millions in cash from both Kickstarter backers and VC funding, I couldn't quite decipher what the point really was. A console that plays mobile games on your TV? With a controller?" Forbes chimed in.
"How would that ever drum up the install base necessary to lure developers away from the much more lucrative mobile business? How would anyone really make money on this, when gamers typically play mobile games on their mobile phones and tablets, and full-fledged console games on traditional consoles?"
By partnering up with companies like Mad Catz to ensure support for Ouya services on other existing micro-consoles, Ouya will at least get a chance to live on a bit longer — while not in hardware, at least... in spirit?
On Twitter, Ouya did not specifically address whether it would produce hardware going forward, but said its existing Ouya console is still available for sale on its website and Amazon.